Growing trend disturbing to Biffle
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- In the wake of a ruling by NASCAR officials that will make the type of rear shock absorbers used last week at Dover, Del., by Hendrick Motorsports illegal in the future, Roush Racing driver Greg Biffle says creativity within the teams is being quashed.
The rear shocks used by Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch in finishing 1-2 at Dover were ruled legal by the sanctioning organization after an extensive postrace inspection, but a technical bulletin will be issued this weekend making the design of those shocks a no-no in the future.
"I will defend the 48 [Johnson] and the 5 [Busch] team by saying that if they were using parts in the shocks that were legal, and they could get their car to come back down to [the required] height in time to go through inspection through creativity, more power to them.
"There were some things taken away from us that hurt us earlier in the season, too."
Biffle, speaking Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, said the trend toward lack of creativity is also reflected in NASCAR's work to develop the so-called Car of Tomorrow, a vehicle that moves the driver toward the center of the car, raises and widens the profile of the car and adds crushable materials -- all in the interest of safety.
The new car is nearly ready for an on-track test and NASCAR hopes to have teams racing it by 2007.
"Everybody is going to have the same thing," Biffle said. "To me, that's going to be disastrous. I've heard all secondhand information. I haven't sat down and said, 'What exactly are we going to be able to do?' but I heard that we're not going to be able to do this, we're not going to be able to do that."
Biffle pointed out that different drivers like their cars built and set up differently.
"Like right now, my noses on my race cars are mounted in a different location than [teammates] Mark Martin's and Matt Kenseth's because they like the car to drive different," Biffle said. "I like a little bit looser car. So we're able to make changes for a driver's style and I think we're going to lose a lot of that, maybe, in the future."
Biffle, one of the 10 drivers in the 10-race playoff-style Chase for the Nextel Cup championship, said he isn't against the concept of the Car of Tomorrow.
"I agree with the bigger car being away from the driver's side more -- being a little taller -- all of those things are good," he said. "But they still have to let us build our own race car."
No crystal ball
Tony Stewart would much rather remain a race driver and leave the prognosticating to others.
Stewart finished 18th at Dover, the first time he has finished worse than eighth in 14 races. He fell from first to a tie for fifth in the standings, heading into Sunday's UAW-Ford 500 trailing new leader Jimmie Johnson by 23 points.
Asked when he will have to go into catch-up mode, Stewart shook his head and said, "Yeah, Homestead [Fla.].
"You can ask me that question after we run Sunday and the answer may be totally different. It's strictly a week-to-week deal."
Stewart, never one to hide his feelings, added, "The thing that has amazed me is that most of the questions I'm answering today are all theoretical. Well, I'm not a philosopher.
"None of us can predict this. If we could, we'd be bookies in Las Vegas making millions of dollars betting on these races instead of driving in them. And it's a heck of a lot safer sitting in a chair in that dark room, letting cocktail waitresses bring you drinks. I don't have the answers. Nobody has the answers."
Casey Mears will drive a pink No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge at all five Nextel Cup races in October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
It's the second year in a row that Mears' car will sport the special paint job and carry the logo of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
"This year we're a lot better prepared for it," Mears said. "We had a special paint scheme this year on my helmet and we're going to auction that off. That's going to go to the foundation, and my suits and all that stuff."
Mears said all proceeds from that auction, as well as the sale of special diecast cars through Target, the Ganassi team and his own Web site, www.caseymears.com, will go to breast cancer research.
NASCAR star Sterling Marlin has a doubleheader scheduled Sunday, running the Cup race in the afternoon and appearing on the WB Network's "Blue Collar TV" show that night.
Marlin taped his part of the show, appearing in a comedy sketch, earlier this year in Atlanta, Ga.
The weekly show comedians Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy and Heath Hyche.
Rusty Wallace, second in the points, remains the only driver among the top 40 running at the end of every race this season. The top winners at Talladega are the late Dale Earnhardt, with 10 Cup victories, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., with five. Fifty-three of the 72 races run at Talladega have been won from the top 10. Bobby Labonte, who won here in May 1998, is the last driver to win from the pole on the 2.66-mile oval.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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